Dialectics of Enlightenment

Painting of krishna’s form of vishvarupa, the cosmic Person. Unknown Date, US public Domain via wiki Commons.

In the image above, we see Vishvarupa, as the cosmic Person. The cosmic Person is the body and embodiment of Ultimate Reality (called Brahman in Sanskrit).

In art and in myth, the Cosmic Purusha is often depicted as  being comprised of worlds (called Lokas). The body of Purusha contains lower worlds and upper worlds, places where Devas and Asuras reside. It is said that Enlightenment entails a movement toward the light of the Devas (spiritual truth), and away from the darkness of the Asuras (ignorance). Ultimately, this duality is resolved as we encounter the cosmic light and heart of Purusha.  This inner heart is our own and it is cosmic. It does not find its location in any organ of the body, but is known as the center of existence. It is a symbolic heart: a symbolic light, ours and beyond ours.

It is also said that the Vedas (ancient Sanskrit texts) are the body of Ultimate Reality (Brahman). As we read the Vedas, and work with the symbols and concepts contained therein we inhabit a sacred body.

One hymn in particular is known for presenting the dialectics of Enlightenment. The hymn is called the Isha Upanishad. The dialectics of Enlightenment present two opposing ideas, which are integrated as the spiritual seeker realizes higher and higher levels of synthesis and integration. In the Vedas, the supreme dialectic is found between the Innermost Self (Ātman) and Ultimate Reality (Brahman). Enlightenment is an integration and unification of these two aspects of being.

The Isha Upanishad challenges us to integrate opposing forces within our own psyche so that we might be capable of realizing the supreme unity and of individual Self with Ultimate Reality. This realization is sometimes called non-duality and sometimes Oneness depending on spiritual teaching and historical context. I am going to go into some technical detail on regards to the Isha Upanishad so as to illustrate the dialectics at play.

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Surya the Sun God: expressing the creative power of the soul

Suryatanjore
Surya receives worship from the multitudes; Tanjore School miniature painting, 1800’s. US Public Domain via Wikimedia
In the above image, we see a paining of Surya, the sun God, from the 19th Century. Surya is seated on his chariot led by a horse with seven heads.  He is surrounded by attendants and the multitudes praise him. It is said that Surya is the eye of the cosmos. [1]

In images of the cosmic person, Surya is one the eyes, contrasting with the moon in the other eye, representing the solar and lunar aspects of both the cosmos and psychic life.

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Prakriti: mother nature

In Hinduism, Prakriti is the goddess of mother nature. The Sankhya Karika tells us that Prakriti means “nature” and that Mula prakriti is “original and unoriginate substance whence all substances proceed” [1].

In Shamkaya, it is understood that the cosmos is made up of two poles: consciousness and matter. These two aspects are represented by puruṣa and prakṛti. The living soul (jiva) experiences a world in which purisha and prakriti are bound and fused. It is said that puruṣa, as the cosmic consciousness, merges or identifies with prakriti (in the jiva) out of ignorance.

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